Review: MINI Cooper (2001 – 2007)

Rating:

Took the MINI look up market. Huge fun to drive, and has given a lot of people a lot of fun. More fun to drive than later R56 Cooper.

Not as problem-free as buyers hoped. Wearing on the motorway. No standard a/c. Needs expensive spec upgrades to make desirable. Demoted a star in 2010 for high cost of repairs.

Recently Added To This Review

3 December 2015

Power steering failed on another 2003 MINI Cooper, this one with more than 100,000 miles. Local dealer, Cooper Chelmsford, checked car, contacted MINI UK and MINI UK covered the cost of parts and labour.... Read more

13 May 2014

Power steering failed on an 89,000 mile 2003 MINI Cooper and the local dealer, Cooper, York, obtained a 100% contribution from MINI for a replacement pump. Read more

26 March 2014

On a 2006 MINI Cooper R50 with an opening 'Panoramic' roof the roof failed in 2009 and was replaced for a labour charge of £500. 2nd roof failed in March 2014 and owner quoted £1,786 to replace... Read more

MINI Cooper (2001 – 2007): At A Glance

I thought I was the last bloke in the country to get my hands on the new MINI. Until I drove one to the auctions and half the traders wanted a go.

First impressions: every control is sharp and immediate. Steering, clutch, gearshift all feel like extensions of yourself. No slop at all. And the same can be said of the Sports Suspension. Bang, crash, wallop is the order of the day. The designers tried very hard to make it feel like a go-kart. And succeeded.

What does a MINI Cooper (2001 – 2007) cost?

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MINI Cooper (2001 – 2007): What's It Like Inside?

Dimensions
Length 3635–3655 mm
Width 1688 mm
Height 1408–1416 mm
Wheelbase 2467 mm

Full specifications

Some of the bits and pieces inside aren't how I remember them from Motor Shows. Like the column stalks that look like something out of an Airfix 'Starship Enterprise' kit. As bad as the horrible Steptronic buttons on the steering wheel of an MGF. And the styled structure in front of the gearlever that could contain cubbyholes yet doesn't. But other bits are wonderful. Like the view through the letterbox windscreen in the rain with the dinky little wipers slappin' time. More like a chopped-top MiniSprint than a Mini. And the £80 optional leather-rim steering wheel is just the right size, just the right thickness and exactly the right angle. And the rev counter on the column with its red light zone red line. And the chain-cam engine. And the fantastic un-Mini-like access to it. There really is loads to like.

Child seats that fit a MINI Cooper (2001 – 2007)

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What's the MINI Cooper (2001 – 2007) like to drive?

Though the MINI Cooper isn't actually very fast, and most 2.0 litre repmobiles will stay with you away from the lights, it FEELS fast. So fast that everyone else appears to have slowed down. The roadholding is astonishing and you don't have to slow down for corners. The trouble is, everyone else does, which means that in traffic you're always stuck behind someone. Maybe I had a bad day. Like the day every blind nonagenarian in Surrey got into their Honda Civics and joined a 30mph bumper to bumper convoy through all the best bends. And they wonder why their insurance goes up 10 per cent for every year of age beyond 75.

MINI Coopers don't like motorways. They get onto them quickly enough: down the slip-road, pick up speed, zip into place like lightning. Then it's all over because, though the gearing allows about 21 mph per 1,000 rpm, the thing drones like Victor Meldrew at cruising speeds and hops about like a pogo stick. Apparently they're even worse on 'Sports Suspension Plus'. And worse still on the very tasty 17in wheels which Premier Division footballers seem to be choosing. Don't look for practicality. MINIs are strictly 2+2s, and then only if you're all well under six feet tall. I also averaged a mere 32.25 mpg, which isn't brilliant, but did reflect quite a lot of short runs in town.

The car grows on you. You learn its quirks and limits and adapt to the best way to drive it. You use any excuse to get out on the roads in it. By the end of my week with a dark blue MINI Cooper I was in love and desperately working out what to sell so I could buy one for myself.

With its £2,000 worth of options, my MINI Cooper worked out at £13,500 on the road. This may seem like a lot for a little hatchback. But it isn't a lot for a sports car. And no small sportscar I can think of is anything like as much fun to drive.

That's the best way to sum it up. The MINI Cooper is the most fun car to drive there is.

 

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
Cooper 41 mpg 9.1 s 166 g/km
Cooper S 33 mpg 7.2 s 207 g/km

Real MPG average for a MINI Cooper (2001 – 2007)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance

87%

Real MPG

26–44 mpg

MPGs submitted

110

Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

What have we been asked about the MINI Cooper (2001 – 2007)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

My 2012 MINI Cooper has developed a timing chain issue - should MINI rectify this?

I purchased my MINI Cooper Convertible in 2012 and was delighted with it – it's my dream car. Last week, I heard a rattle when starting the engine and upon taking it to a garage, have discovered that the timing chain is causing problems and to rectify this issue (prior to the engine ceasing) will cost me £3000. I've had both the oil and filters changed at each annual service - less than 10,000 miles. Upon further research, it would appear this is a common problem with MINI, one which clearly was not explained to me when purchasing the vehicle. I'm astonished that a car just five years old can have an issue such as this, and wondered if MINI/BMW have in place any way to help with rectifying this?
This is a standard problem with the 1.6 chain cam engine in MINI, Peugeot and Citroen. If the car has been properly serviced always by BMW dealers, then you may have a case under the Sale of Goods six year "reasonable expectation": https://www.honestjohn.co.uk/faq/consumer-rights/
Answered by Honest John
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What do owners think?

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